Here Come da Judge - to Turner's Fisheries

With apologies to Flip Wilson fans...anyone out there but me even remember Flip? Anyone? Anyone?

Okay, well, I was invited to be a "celebrity judge" at the 1st Annual Behind the Bean Recipe Challenge. BtB is the blog of the Westin Hotel and includes Turner Fisheries.

My fellow judges at the table included:

  • Executive Sous Chef Chad Kennedy, Westin Hotel/Turner Fisheries
  • Rich Auffrey, The Passionate Foodie (PassionateFoodie)
  • Will McAdoo, The Boston Foodie (BostonFoodie)

Rich, me, Will

Congratulations to Dave Copeland the winner of Behind the Bean's Recipe Challenge!

 

Dave's Mussels w/Chipotle Pesto.

 

This was my favorite dish, yet I wished for a squeeze of lime at the end. A hint of acid would have made this very good dish, even better, I think. The pesto is made with chipotle peppers in adobo, a favorite ingredient of mine. It's very nice to have a slightly different preparation of mussels than one typically finds on restaurant menus. Wine, garlic, herbs - I love them as much as the next diner but I'm always delighted to find a surprise that works.

It's a bonus that mussels are a very sustainable choice.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 chipolte peppers in Adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (reserve 2 TB)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 TB pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Directions:
1. Coarsely chop chipolte peppers and put them in a food processor or blender with cilantro, garlic and pine nuts. Process until smooth, then slowly add olive oil with the motor running. When emulsified, season with salt and pepper. The pesto can be made up to a day in advance.
2. Bring the wine to a boil in a large pot. Add the mussels and steam until opened, about 3-5 minutes.Use a slotted spoon to move the mussels to a serving bowl, discarding any unopened mussels.
3. Return wine and cooking liquid to a boil and reduce by half (about 10 minutes). Whisk in pesto and honey. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the left over cilantro.
4. Pour the mixture over the mussels and serve immediately.

 

The other entries

All three dishes were well executed. For home cooks, not professional chefs, cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen, this could have been a challenge. They all three rose to meet it. When we judges arrived a little after 11, all three contestants were quietly at work preparing their dishes. Israa was paired with Chef Toutaint who took my ribbing  - "Hey Chef, how long has it been since someone put you in front of a pile of potatoes and said peel these!" in stride.

 

Exec Sous Chef Chad Kennedy giving us a kitchen tour. Those are the chowder kettles where the award winning chowder is made.

Tried to fit the stand mixer in my bag. Alas, it was too big...

 

At about $45,000 this miraculous machine is a bit out of reach for me. But it can do so many things including accept a flash drive with instructions. Just wait till there's a home version...

our judges' table

Cod w/ Onion Lemon Sauce – Israa Muezzin (Second Place)

These onions were perfectly done, just crisp enough to be intriguing. The cod was also well-prepared.

New England Seafood Salad – Fiona Coxe (A Boston Food Diary)

Third Place went to this New England Seafood Salad.

My apologies for the improper exposure here. Imagine me sitting there fiddling with the camera while the assembled crowd and contestants are waiting for me to begin tasting...doh! We all loved the creativity of translatin g chowder ingredients into a salad. Each of the components were well-done. Shards of crackers and perfectly rendered bacon gave texture. Again, a touch of acid maybe a tarragon vinaigrette would have made this sing.

 

Fiona, Israa, Dave - Congratulations to each of you!!